Advice about Lima from a local

See what knowledge one of our Operations staff members, Dario Meneses, has for those visiting Lima, the capital of Peru, for the first time.
Lima historic city center, Peru
The historic city center of Lima, Peru's capital city, is a charming place to lose oneself in the details of old colonial architectures.

One of the strangest phenomena when it comes to traveling is that someone who has lived all their life in one of the most popular places on earth may not necessarily have seen what all other visitors flock to and rave about. From New Yorkers who have never been to the Statue of Liberty, to Englishmen who have never driven to Stonehenge, perhaps it is the idea that something is “just in our backyard” that reduces the thrill of actually having to journey to the destination and thus procrastinates our motivations to get moving. As such, it is not uncommon for a traveler to sometimes know more about a place than a native!

Plaza Mayor by night, Lima. Photo by Matt Barker.

Therefore, see what knowledge one of our Operations staff members, Dario Meneses, has for those visiting Lima, the capital of Peru, for the first time. A native of Cusco, Dario first became a local of Lima in 2002, and his Peruvian but not-quite-Limeñan background offers a unique perspective on what to see and do in the bustling city.

Welcome to Peru!

I have what I think is one of the most exciting jobs here at Latin America For Less: I meet our travelers at the Lima International Airport, take them to their hotel, give them a short briefing about their itinerary and activities while in Peru, and, of course, answer all the questions or comments they may have. Some of those questions and comments seem to pop up a lot, so I thought it would be interesting to gather a few of them in this post.

Some people are surprised to hear that seasons in Peru (and in all countries in the Southern Hemisphere) are the opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Thus, for example, we are seeing the end of winter right now and hoping that spring comes early, while people in North America and Europe are enjoying their last days of summer.

Second, Lima is a city with 8 million citizens, which means it concentrates almost a third of the between 29 and 30 million people that live in the whole country. Being such a big city, Lima has many faces and many neighborhoods, each with different personalities.

  • The airport is situated in Callao, the port town, where several warehouses and factories are located.
  • On the other hand, the hotels we book for our clients are usually located in Miraflores, the touristic and residential district. Around Miraflores’ main park are numerous cafes, restaurants, libraries, and even some karaoke bars. The park itself hosts street performers and live dance music on the weekends, all in a pretty safe and family-friendly environment.
  • The third face of Lima that you’re likely to see is the downtown historic center. The Spanish establishment of Lima dates to 1535, so the Old Town is full of baroque style temples, stately mansions, and ample squares. This is a nice place to visit on a city tour, but beware that straying away from the touristic route might get you engulfed by Lima’s chaotic, restless daily life; a fascinating sight to behold, to be sure, but not quite safe for the faint of heart.
Paragliders over Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Spend an afternoon along the Miraflores district’s clifftop stretch of urban parks and watch paragliders sail over the coast.

And my last piece of advice for now will be about money. Dollars and credit cards are widely accepted by tourist-oriented businesses (such as hotels, restaurants and supermarkets) throughout Peru. Traveler’s checks, however, are practically not in use anymore. Therefore, it is advisable to always have some Soles (the official Peruvian currency) on hand in case you need to take a taxi or buy something from a smaller shop. The most convenient place to exchange Dollars (or Euros) for soles is at the hotel’s front desk. However, you can get a slightly better rate at exchange houses found in all touristic areas.

I hope these tips will help you get the most of your time in Peru. Remember that our whole team is always ready to answer your questions and help you plan the perfect Peru vacation.

Operations staff member, Dario - Peru For Less

Meet Dario, our friendly Cusco native but now 10-year Lima local. He thinks it’s hilarious when first-time visitors are surprised there are fast food chains such as McDonald’s and KFC all over Lima.